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1957 Ford Thunderbird - One Rare Bird
Jan Bryner's Rare Factory Supercharged '57 Thunderbird Was Built For Speed
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According to Jan, just three or four Starmist Blue '57 Thunderbirds were built with a McCullough supercharger. What's more, only 197 total Phase II F-birds were ordered and built sporting the McCullough blower. By today's standards, these supercharged T-birds weren't much to write home about in terms of performance and speed. However, what makes these cars unique is rarity. There's nothing quite like the rush of a big finned blower to excite the senses. On a Ford showroom floor or at a Saturday night cruise in 1957, these cars were high-end rides for those with money and status. They were eye-catching chariots for Main Street just about anywhere in the rising post-war years.
We could tell you all about what the Bryners had to do to get this car to show condition, but we'd be lying to you. They bought this car in as-is condition, and aside from the Minter engine rebuild, it was in show condition.
We like the way Ford blended the Thunderbird's dual exhausts into the rear bumper for 1957-virtually invisible, yet visible. The Thunderbird takes its styling cue from the futuristic space age, and Ford did the best job at this. Of all the Detroit automakers, Ford used the most restraint, keeping jet-age/space-age nuances to a minimum-tasteful, elegant. Fin treatment is subtle. Frank Hershey, Ford stylist at the time, can be credited for the Thunderbird's unique styling. It may surprise you to know the Thunderbird was conceived and built using a lot of off-the-shelf parts to keep cost under control. It employs a Ford sedan chassis underneath. Those are big Ford drum brakes behind authentic Kelsey-Hayes wire wheels. A Ford instrument panel was borrowed from the '56 Ford parts bin; ditto for the dashpad. Lots of other shared hardware exists throughout the car.
Ford didn't build the Thunderbird with the notion it would sell a lot of them. This was a high-profit luxury car, to be sure. However, the Thunderbird was conceived to bring buyers into showrooms who would likely buy something more mainstream, like a Victoria sedan with room for a family. In short, it was dreams versus reality-people drawn to the Thunderbird who would buy a station wagon for the wife and kids. Even though Ford intended to make a lot of money on Thunderbird sales, it, too, was faced with reality. The corporation lost money on every two-seat T-bird sold, making it necessary to grow this car to four passengers in 1958 to attract more buyers.
Jan's Starmist Blue Thunderbird hasn't been a reality check for the Bryners, but more a dreamy-eyed experience these folks have waited a lifetime for. Cruising in a rare, classic Thunderbird is surreal for Jan. It's a high without drugs, and an expression of Jay's expression for the woman he married.
'57 Ford Thunderbird
Owner: Jan & Jay Bryner, Sandy, UT